Immunologists find antibody-producing cells in bone marrow

Immunologists find antibody-producing cells located in bone marrow
Immunologists find antibody-producing cells located in bone marrow | Courtesy of
A team of immunologists from Emory University recently identified a specific series of long-lived antibody-producing cells, essentially an archive of immunity, based inside bone marrow, the university announced.

The cells keep a record of the way the body’s immune systems fought infections even decades in the past, including childhood exposure to mumps and measles.

The scientists' study included 11 people between the ages of 43 and 70. None had received vaccines for mumps or measles but there were still antibodies in their bloodstream, showing they had had these illnesses as children. The team found plasma cells on the surfaces of their bone marrow samples, suggesting that cells manufacture antibodies that fight against mumps and measles.

This discovery could give vaccine designers a goalpost for creating long-lasting antibody production. It could also further current and future investigations of various autoimmune diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus erythematosus, through better specifying the auto-reactive antibodies produced by the cells, Emory said.

"If you're developing a vaccine, you want to fill up this compartment with cells that respond to your target antigen," said co-senior author Dr. F. Eun-Hyung Lee, assistant professor of medicine at the Emory School of Medicine and director of Emory Healthcare's asthma, allergy and immunology program. "I like to call this group of cells the 'historical record' of infection or vaccination.”

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